No sooner do I tell you how Virgin Atlantic are better in all departments than British Airways – they let me down again!

What are the most important things you look for in an airline and a flight? I think firstly they have to go where you want to go. Secondly the flight must be safe but we take that for granted with major British carriers so I’m going to ignore that aspect. Thirdly there is the question of price and fourthly, I think, punctuality. The respective frills maybe come fifth. By that I mean the quality of seat / bed, food etc.

When heading for Vegas direct we have Virgin, BA and now Norwegian. As I told you in my previous posts By plane from the UKVirgin Atlantic and British Airways the prices charged by Virgin and BA are remarkably similar, too similar to be a coincidence! That doesn’t help us choose so we are on to punctuality and therein lies the rub. A few minutes or even an hour here and there is annoying but you do expect to travel on the date you book don’t you?

As I told you before I try to make my reservations during the January sale to minimise the cost. In 2015 I did exactly that, booking in January to travel out at the end of November and back in December. After nine or ten months working on the assumption that those would be my travel dates Virgin cancelled my return flight and booked me onto another. They simply did not sell enough seats on the December flight. There was no consultation and no compensation. As far as they were concerned it was tough that I had to arrange and pay for extra car parking, an extra night in the hotel and that I would miss a day of work now I would return on the Monday and not on the Sunday as scheduled. So, it would cost me £800 or so – get over it!

I argued with them but to no avail. The ticket T&Cs are so skewed in their favour there is nothing we can do about it. They actually only have to give you fourteen days notice before the flight for you to be entitled to any redress even if the flight has already been booked for twelve months!

This year I did the same again, making a reservation to fly back on the Saturday in December to arrive back in London on the Sunday so I can be back at work on Monday. Lo and behold, nine months later in September they cancel the return flight again and I am shunted onto the Sunday flight returning Monday. Two years running. Forget that they have better beds and better food. If they won’t actually honour your booking what use are they? If you can’t rely on an airline to fly you when you have arranged there is no point in ever flying with them.

I made even more of a fuss this time but, again, to absolutely no avail. Their attitude is the same – get stuffed, if we don’t sell enough seats we will cancel if we want to. I even queried if Sir Richard Branson knows and endorses this policy since they are very quick to show film of him and to associate him with the airline whenever it suits. No, they wouldn’t be bothering him and he has very little to do with the airline nowadays anyway!

So there you have it. I can only suggest that you always fly British Airways or give Norwegian a try. Getting there and back when you need to is what really matters and Virgin clearly don’t give a stuff whether they do that for you or not. I have never come across BA cancelling on this route. Virgin’s passenger numbers must be falling for this to keep happening. I can only suggest you avoid them and they might decide to try harder.

Written by eilv